Stay in Dust


Joburg businessmen ease into their limos,
sip iced coffee under restaurant umbrellas
and beneath the city, rust corrugated shacks
where dust and hunger hide sad faces
where millions of township people
walk each day slowly
the nothing they own making not a sound
for the Joburg city men.

No more water, because you cannot pay
and organised screams shake their high rise walls
fingers and fists rise out of the dust
tired and worn, Emily joins the marches against privatisation
against water and electricity cuts
against the unpaid work.

Each day she sells sandwiches to school children
so she can feed her own
and at each march and meeting
she wears her red T-shirt defiantly.

"Stay down hungry people!
Stay away, don't complain.
Hush, keep quiet, Emily.
Back to the dust, where you belong",
her assassins said as they shot her.


[Emily Lengola was an activist with Orange Farm Water and Electricity Crisis Committee in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was shot dead on February 8 in what was believed to be a politically motivated murder. The police refused to investigate. On February 22, hundreds of people marched from her funeral to the Orange Farm police station. Such brutal repression will not silence them but fuels the people's determination to fight back.]

From Green Left Weekly, March 5, 2003.
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